Pasture to Plate with Porter Road | re:COGs Podcast Episode #34

Carving a Path to DTC

Porter Road’s Path to Premium DTC Supplier of Ethically Sourced Meats

Join us as we take a ride down Porter Road and cruise into the remarkable success story of a premium butcher box service that is truly a cut above the rest. On this episode of re:COGs, host Mike Gelb speaks with co-founder Chris Carter and General Manager Ryan McIntyre from Porter Road as they share their journey through the aspirations and obstacles that led them to their ultimate destination as a distinctive DTC butcher shop that delivers unparalleled ethically sourced meat right to your doorstep. 

Revitalizing Local Agriculture Through Whole Animal Butchery

James Peisker and Chris Carter, co-founders of Porter Road Butcher, were on a mission to bring an elevated farm-to-table experience to Nashville. However, they faced significant challenges in their pursuit of a consistent supply of high-quality meat. Undeterred by this hurdle, they made the bold decision along with their “third partner” Ryan McIntyre to establish Porter Road as a unique whole-animal butchery. By embracing this groundbreaking model, Porter Road has been able to deliver unrivaled quality and traceability while simultaneously providing much-needed stability to farmers. This innovative approach not only motivated farmers to meet their exacting standards but also ensured fair compensation for their diligent work.

Pandemic-Proofing With a Pivot to DTC

In a prescient move pre-pandemic, Porter Road vertically integrated by acquiring its own USDA facility, enabling direct shipping of fresh, never-frozen beef cuts. Come COVID-19, this positioned them perfectly for explosive DTC growth as traditional wholesale channels temporarily closed. Lean social media testing combined with cost-efficient digital marketing fueled their meteoric rise.

Cultivating Partnerships Through Unique Price Transparency

Central to Porter Road’s appeal is an authentic farm-to-table narrative rooted in trusting partnerships with independent farmers. By providing fixed premium pricing, they empower farmers to forecast financially and plan seasons in advance, unlike fluctuating commodity markets. Maintaining standards for their network also means rarely experiencing issues with spoilage or contamination, bolstering inventory control.

Flavor Begins In the Field:  Animal Welfare & Humane Harvesting Are Essential Factors

Ardent advocates for animal welfare, the team at Porter Road firmly believes that every step in the journey from pasture to dry aging has a significant impact on the ultimate quality and flavor of their products. Their farmer partners share this sentiment, acknowledging the expertise demonstrated both on the farm and within Porter Road’s facilities as what sets their offerings apart. This commitment is evident in their meticulous utilization of every part of the carcass and their ingenious creation of products tailored to seasonality and inventory availability. 

``Our flavor starts in the field by raising animals correctly and letting them graze naturally. Ensuring the right diet and exposure to sunlight and rain allows for optimal muscle structure development and breeds quality all the way through to humanely harvesting the cattle.``

- Chris Carter, Porter Road

Join us in exploring Porter Road’s inspiring ascent in pioneering a differentiated model to drive real change for local farmers while delivering unparalleled quality and craft to consumers. Through their efforts, Porter Road not only champions local agriculture but also provides invaluable support to farmers who play a vital role in our food system.  You’ll leave both informed and inspired by this story of ethical, values-based supply chain transparency and partnerships.

Listen In:

Mike, Chris and Ryan discuss:

  • The origin story and initial motivations for starting Porter Road Butcher in 2011
  • Transition from plans to open a restaurant to launching a whole animal butcher shop
  • Challenges finding high-quality, local meat suppliers to meet their standards
  • The goal of supporting local agriculture and farmers with a new business model
  • Process of identifying and partnering with the right farmers
  • Details on their production facility and operations
  • Expanding into direct-to-consumer (DTC) e-commerce sales
  • Wholesale business and restaurant partnerships
  • Inventory management and logistics considerations
  • Quality control and sustainability processes
  • Animal welfare and their ethical harvesting practices
  • Innovations around product offerings and full animal utilization
  • The impacts of COVID-19 on their business
  • Omnichannel distribution and future growth plans

Listen to the Entire re:COGs Series:

Tune in to re:COGs, the podcast series that examines the essential aspects of inventory management, supply chain optimization, and operational excellence, all through a COGs-focused lens.

Hear business operators and thought leaders from growing consumer brands share their thoughts on product manufacturing.  Through inspiring stories and critical conversations with top experts across CPG, food, fashion, and other industries, listeners are treated to valuable insights and actionable advice that can be applied to any growing business as it scales up operations.

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